The thing about success is that we don’t achieve it despite feeling pain.
We achieve it precisely because we experience pain.
Now, I know this sounds like the short end of the stick – and it kind of is.
But if you spend your life running away from the pain, you’re never going to benefit from it.
Life has a funny way of always coming back to you with the lessons that you didn’t learn the first time around.
If you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, life will double up and hammer at that wall you’ve built, with two catapults instead of one.
So, success isn’t defined by how well you avoid painful situations and uncomfortable conversations.
It’s defined by what you do after you’ve been through the wringer.
And how you take that pain and turn it into an invaluable lesson that will propel you forward in life.
You don’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m now a happy person” if you actually feel like your life is being devoured by hopelessness.
Seeing bad situations in a positive light and looking for the good is a sensible thing to do to keep your spirits up when life gets tough.
Such as losing your job but deciding to be grateful for having a family that loves you and will support you through hard times.
Feeling better and becoming successful is something that takes a lot of work and copious amounts of brutally honest introspection.
It doesn’t happen simply because you believe in yourself.
It’s the self-help fallacy of “you can do anything so long as you believe in yourself” that leads you down a path where positivity will ruin your life.
The mantra to believe in yourself is designed to set you up for failure.
Because that blanket positivity – that is so omnipresent in self-help – will tell you that you’ve failed because you didn’t believe in yourself enough.
It tells you that you should blame yourself because there is nowhere else to place the blame – and this is where it’s fundamentally wrong.
What you need is a system that works for you when things aren’t going well because that’s the real test of whether or not something holds up.
You can’t control what happens to you in life.
But you always have control over how you respond to and interpret whatever happens to you.
In the end, you’re the only one who can attribute meaning to anything that happens to you.
Choose what it means to you (if anything) and how you’re going to embrace that going forward.
Not choosing is also a choice.
Choosing not to respond to events is still a response.
Because you’re always creating your life based on your interpretation of events and using that to shape what you believe in.
Whether you make choices in life consciously or unconsciously, is the real question.
You must choose to live by your values every day, again and again, before you will see their manifestation in your life.
Actively taking responsibility for your own life, your own experience, will allow you to turn pain into empowerment, suffering into strength, loss into opportunity.
And your vulnerability into your superpower.
What is a painful experience that you’re grateful for?
At the time, it will have seemed overwhelming and much worse than it does with time and distance.
Think about an experience that was painful, but that shaped you and was a part of bringing you to this moment, here today.